Year In Review : 1958 American League
Off the field…
The United States launched its first satellite "Explorer I" into orbit around the earth. The launch was in response to the Soviets who had successfully launched their first satellite "Sputnik" one year earlier.
U.S. Troops landed in Lebanon for the first time after President Eisenhower ordered approximately five-thousand U.S. Marines deployed to help maintain order after a revolt in Iraq resulted in the ouster of the pro-Western Lebanese government.
Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans-Atlantic jet service on October 27, when its first 707 airliner, christened the "Clipper America", took off for Paris, France from New York.
In the American League…
Cleveland Indian Vic Power became the first American League player since 1927 to steal home twice in the same game. The crafty first baseman first stole home in the eighth inning, then again in the tenth giving the Indians a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Two walks and a hit batsman are all that Jim Bunning allowed as he won his sixth game in seven decisions and tossed the only American League no hitter of the season on July 20.
Boston's Ted Williams hit the 17th grand slam of his career (along with a three-run home run) during an 11-8 win over the Detroit Tigers on July 29th. The bases-loaded-round-tripper tied the Red Sox slugger for 2nd place with Babe Ruth and moved him within six of the all-time leader, Lou Gehrig.
In the National League…
Tragedy struck the Los Angeles Dodgers after catcher Roy Campanella was involved in a serious auto accident on Long Island. Although he survived suffering a broken neck, his spinal column was nearly severed and his legs were permanently paralyzed.
On May 11th, the St. Louis Cardinals set a National League record by using ten pinch hitters during a regulation double-header. Despite walking fourteen batters in game one, The "Redbirds" managed to top the Chicago Cubs 8-7 and followed in game two with another 6-5 win. Despite the lengthy line-up, Stan Musial remained the Cardinals biggest threat at the plate and posted a home run and four singles to come within two hits of three-thousand. Amazingly, the Cards would tie their own record two months later against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13th.
Milwaukee Braves ace Warren Spahn became the first lefty to win twenty or more games, nine times, after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 on September 13th. (Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove, each won twenty games, eight times).
Around the league…
Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick announced that the players and coaches (rather than the fans) would elect their line-ups for the All-Star Game.
"Teddy Ballgame" aka Ted Williams, signed a whopping $135,000 contract extension with the Boston Red Sox making him the highest paid player (to date) in the history of Major League Baseball. Later that season he became only the 10th player ever to get one-thousand extra-base hits.
Decades before the premiere of ESPN or the YES Network, the New York Yankees announced that they would televise an unprecedented one-hundred forty games during the 1958 season. The Philadelphia Phillies followed several days later agreeing to broadcast seventy-eight games in the New York City area.
Starting this season, all American League hitters were required to wear batting helmets.